Slovenian chef Ana Ros was named World's Best Female Chef 2017 by World's 50 Best Restaurants.

Ana Roš: The female chef putting Slovenia on the map

Updated 11:27 PM ET, Thu June 22, 2017

(CNN)Five years ago, few people would have put trying Slovenian food on their bucket list.

Nestled between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, the tiny country of two million people which takes just three hours to drive across, wasn't on the culinary map.
But one female chef has thrust the Central European nation into the global limelight with her visionary gastronomy.
Last year, chef Ana Roš appeared on Netflix series Chef's Table and, in January, she was crowned "The World's Best Female Chef 2017" by The World's 50 Best Restaurants.
The Slovenian chef has hired foragers to help her source local mushrooms, berries and fish.
"Voters (were) seduced by the stunning location, the charm of the restaurant and its service, but most of all by the originality, subtlety and sophistication of the food," William Drew, group editor of The World's 50 Best Restaurants, tells CNN.
"She has almost single-handedly drawn attention to her region, its agro-economy, wine, culture and sheer beauty."
With the Michelin Guide not yet in Slovenia, it was the highest culinary accolade Roš could bring to her nation.

Who is Ana Roš?

A self-taught chef, Roš helms Hiša Franko (meaning Frank's House) inn and restaurant in an Alpine corner of the Soca Valley, just a few miles from the Italian border.
Her menu has been praised for its eclectic, original interpretations of Slovenian cuisine -- traditionally, a melting pot of influences from neighbors such as Italy and Austria.
For the past 15 years, the 44-year-old has worked to elevate her country as a gastronomic destination.
Her achievements are all the more remarkable considering the male-dominated profession she is working in: while there are 125 male chefs with three Michelin stars, just five women have held the same accolade (they are all in Europe).
Furthermore, women in top kitchen positions tend to earn 28% less than men, a Glassdoor report claimed last year.
But perhaps Roš has an advantage.
Located in a remote part of western Slovenia, Hiša Franko is now the most well-known restaurant in Slovenia.
When it comes to gender equality, Slovenia is the highest ranked country in the EU and 8th best in the world, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2016.
Not that that has safeguarded Roš against sexism in the kitchen. Last year, she says she fired five male chefs in a week after they questioned her authority.
"They did not pay enough respect. You can feel it, especially when you try to balance the energies of a completely new team," Roš tells CNN.
"Their eyes tell you everything, there's no need for words."

A diplomatic dilemma

Roš was raised in an ambitious family.
Born to a doctor father and journalist mother, she was an excellent student and as a youth was on the national ski team. Fluent in five languages -- Slovenian, Spanish, English, French, and Italian -- she went on to pursue international diplomatic studies at university.
Roš was a plane ride away from starting a job as a junior diplomat in Brussels when fate intervened.
The parents of her boyfriend, Valter Kramar, were retiring, and as the eldest son, he had inherited their restaurant, Hiša Franko, in the tiny town of Kobarid just down the road from where Roš had grown up, in Tolmin.
He gave her a life-altering dilemma: follow her heart back to the little valley with him, or continue on her glittering diplomatic career path.

A family affair

Roš chose love, but it came with a price tag.
"(My family) didn't want me to come back and be a cook and were ashamed that I was working with my hands. They expected more from me."
Her father shunned her for six months. Her mother, she says, is still "embarrassed."
In Slovenia and across Communist countries ... a cook is (seen as) someone who can't do anything else," she explains.
"The funny thing is that I am kind of an ambassador, anyway, bringing curious travelers and diners to experience Slovenia."
Diners come from as far as New Zealand, Australia and the US to her restaurant, which is also a favorite with Slovenian politicians and personalities -- even president Borut Pahor has payed a visit.

Small town, big ideas

When Roš and Kramar took over Hiša Franko in 2000, it already had a full-time chef.
Kramar, a sommelier, looked after the wine while Roš manned the front of the house.
She thought the restaurant held huge possibilities and wanted to see the menu evolve beyond traditional Slovenian dishes of ravioli and cottage cheese.
"We had been traveling the world and saw that things were moving outside this valley," she recalls. "So I went very ambitiously to the kitchen, talking with the chef, and saying we should try to pair the pasta with some local cheese, or introduce some wine pairings. But he didn't really see the value in it."